Pope and US President spoke about a wide range of issues

Washington, Apr. 16, 2008 (vaticans.org) - In a private conversation at the White House on April 16, Pope Benedict XVI and US President George W. Bush spoke about a wide range of issues including terrorism, the dignity of human life, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, immigration, and development in Africa.

The Holy Father met with Bush in the Oval Office after a public reception attended by over 10,000 people on the White House lawn earlier on Tuesday morning. [See the separate CWN headline story.]

In a joint statement released after the private session, the Vatican and the White House reported that President Bush had renewed his birthday greetings to the Pontiff, thanking him for his visit. The President made a special point of thanking the Pope for scheduling a visit to pray at the "Ground Zero" site in New York--- an event that is on the papal calendar for Sunday, April 20.

The joint statement listed a number of topics on which the Vatican and the Bush Administration are in agreement, including the defense of human life and marriage, the importance of religious freedom, and the condemnation of terrorism and violence-- especially violence commimtted in the name of religion.

The Pope acknowledged the "substantial financial contributions" that the US has made to developing nations, with special reference to the American initiatives against AIDS in Africa.

"The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable time in their discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict," the statement continued. The Pope drew attention to the dangerous political crisis threatening Lebanon and to the "precarious state of Christian communities" in the region.

The Pope and the President also spoke about immigration, a topic that the Pontiff had mentioned during a press conference with reporters during his flight from Rome. Following up on the theme that he had emphasized in that discussion with the press, the Holy Father spoke about the need to care for the welfare of immigrants and "the well being of their families."


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